Spruce Up Quicksilver With New Interfaces

LogoThe oft mentioned Quicksilver from the awesome folks at Blacktree Software is arguably one of my favorite apps on my entire Leopard MacBook Pro. The sheer simplicity, intuitiveness, and function of this remarkable app allows me to work more productively than ever; launching an app, controlling something, or finding something is just a keyboard shortcut away. However, some of the built-in appearances that ship with Quicksilver when you download can leave much to be desired, especially when running on the shiny new Leopard desktop. Here’s a bunch of new appearances to change that up.

The first thing to note is that Quicksilver’s built-in plug in menu installation tool has a bunch of other appearances that you can easily install and get going with. However, there are more than just those standard ones that you can use and they can really make your Quicksilver installation look that much more appealing, and I’m going to show you a couple of my favorites today.

My number one interface for Quicksilver right now is BezelHUD from Julius Eckert. This incredibly clean and simple interface has a nice gradient and cool animation when you invoke and hide Quicksilver. It’s just nice looking.


Another one from Julius Eckert that I really like is SilverFlow. This one has a larger window, but it has a Cover Flow-like interface to browse your items. I really like this one a lot.


The last interface I’m going to mention today is called Showcase, and it is also available from Julius Eckert. This one has a larger window, and forgoes the familiar 3 tab interface in favor of one large region with two smaller ones for the actions below it. This one is really cool looking too, and it especially looks good on darker wallpapers.


All of the themes in this post are currently freeware, but Julius does accept donations. Enjoy your more attractive Quicksilver instantly!


45 Responses to “Spruce Up Quicksilver With New Interfaces”

  1. Dennis on May 17th, 2008 11:37 am

    I don’t know. I’ve had it with Quicksilver’s instability and other issues. I’ve switched to LaunchBar. Talk about simplicity, intuitiveness, and elegance. I already like it more.

  2. Peter on May 17th, 2008 12:14 pm

    I only use Quicksilver for setting my Mac to sleep, to do a “fast user logout” (despite not having fast user switching enabled) and to do quick shell commands (“killall Dock” especially if there’s a problem). Nowadays, Spotlight, Stacks & the Dock do the job just fine.
    But I was never a true Quicksilver power user.

  3. Greg Healy on May 17th, 2008 1:45 pm

    I especially like the BezelHUD skin. I am not a Quicksilver power user, but I do use it for launching apps and other small things.

  4. flec65 on May 17th, 2008 2:52 pm

    Dennis : +1
    I gave up on quicksilver too. QS was so unstable and sluggish for me on Leopard (and Tiger before), that doing things with the mouse was actually faster. LaunchBar is really fast and never crash. Those 3 interface projects are really, really nice but nothing seems as sleek as LB, IMHO.

  5. Arthus Erea on May 17th, 2008 2:59 pm

    LaunchBar would never cut it for me: it just doesn’t have the power user functions of QuickSilver (I use QuickSilver for everything: Google searches, del.icio.us bookmarks, iTunes, etc.)

    I don’t really like any of these new interfaces. Nothing beats the “classic” bezel.

  6. Dennis on May 17th, 2008 4:25 pm

    @Arthus Erea – Uh, have you even tried LaunchBar? It can do all of the things you listed and more, and nearly everything Quicksilver can do. LaunchBar is quite powerful and yet amazingly simple. For most things, LaunchBar requires fewer steps too, making it quicker to use.

  7. Arthus Erea on May 17th, 2008 4:27 pm

    @Dennis: Yes I have, and I couldn’t find all those functions in an easy and elegant way, like I can with QuickSilver. Plus, QS is free and runs perfectly for me.

  8. Dennis on May 17th, 2008 6:31 pm

    @Arthus Erea – Yup, those functions are there in LaunchBar, pretty easy to find. And the cool thing is they often require fewer steps because LaunchBar doesn’t rely on the “subject-tab-verb-tab-object” paradigm as heavily. Maybe that’s why you didn’t get it right away. But you’d be surprised – I certainly was after I realized I didn’t need all the extra fiddling.

    But that’s cool if you prefer Quicksilver’s approach; to each his own. Even if you haven’t run into any of the reported problems, maybe the open source project will get off the ground and clean things up. Could save you a couple bucks off a LB license. ;-) Later and good luck!

  9. Arthus Erea on May 17th, 2008 6:54 pm

    @Dennis I still can’t find a way to load my del.icio.us bookmarks. I think LaunchBar is probably better for people who just want a simple application launcher, but it lacks the advanced extensibility and customization of QuickSilver. Plus, I just don’t like the interface in the first place.

    Each to his own.

  10. Darrell on May 18th, 2008 4:29 am

    OMG, Showcase is awesome!

  11. Dennis on May 19th, 2008 2:05 pm

    @Arthus Erea – OK, LaunchBar requires some extra work to integrate del.icio.us bookmarks, but it’s not too difficult for “power users.” You can read more here: http://forums.obdev.at/viewtopic.php?t=291

    I agree that Quicksilver has an overwhelming collection of plugins and can do a lot of stuff, some of which Launchbar can’t. But I think 90% of that stuff is rarely (never?) used by most people. And the more commonly-used things are usually built-in to LaunchBar, or can at least be added with simple scripting. With the possible exception of del.icio.us bookmarks, LaunchBar can certainly do all the basic things you mentioned earlier and more, like web searches, iTunes control, Address Book integration, file manipulation, etc. In fact, there are probably some things LaunchBar can do that Quicksilver can’t!

    So to claim that LaunchBar is probably better for people who just want a simple application launcher is like claiming Quicksilver is probably better for people who just want a sophisticated del.icio.us bookmark manager!

    But maybe you’re right to a certain degree. LaunchBar’s real strength is in core functionality rather than in bells and whistles: things like speed, accuracy, ease of use, reliability, and stability. I think these key areas are much more important than the extras provided by Quicksilver’s plugins, and they’re the things that most people (even “power users”) use most of the time.

  12. Austen Saltz on May 19th, 2008 6:11 pm

    I like Launchbar but for me it just doesn’t compare to Quicksilver. Launchbar has one kind of nice interface but it’s always fun to fiddle around with eye candy like you can with quicksilver.

    I think Launchbar is definitely a more polished app, but Quicksilver is free and just has more power to do virtually anything.

  13. Nuova Interfaccia per QuickSilver | Made in Apple on June 1st, 2008 6:21 pm

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  14. Dan Palmer on June 2nd, 2008 3:52 am

    What on earth is this nonsense about QS being unstable. I am using the latest version on the update system, and it has crashed once.

    I think there must be one or two plugins that are unreliable and cause it to rash as I only have about 1/3 of them and it is fine for me. I would consider myself to be a true QS power user as I often use it to write emails instead of using mail. I also use it for all app launching, and most finder commands such as opening folders, moving items, etc.

  15. KM on June 2nd, 2008 5:10 am

    I haven’t looked into Launchbar much, but it costs money? And it does what Quicksilver does, only without a few extra [tab] clicks? Nah, I’ll pass.

    I’m not a QS poweruser, but I like it thus far, and don’t see any reason to pay for a replacement. It’s crashed about three times in the year that I’ve had it, which was a bit irritating, but not terribly frustrating. I just restarted it and was off.

    Anyway, these skins are nice and all, but I like the standard one just fine.

  16. Scott on June 2nd, 2008 7:58 am

    I tried BezelHUD on my MacBook running 10.4/Tiger, and I don’t think it’s compatible on that front (it hung and then crashed QS first time I used it). Thanks for trying, looks like a nice look for the program…

  17. Daniel on June 2nd, 2008 11:25 am

    Launchbar is just too ugly to pay money for, even if it was capable of matching QS’s feature set. It looks like something Redmond coughed up in 2002 and felt really proud of but not up to mac standards. IMO.

    I haven’t had a lot of problems with Quicksilver crashing myself but I’ve heard from people who have that the solution is to reduce the number of plugins.

  18. Tre nuove interfaccie per QuickSilver « macnness on June 2nd, 2008 11:58 am

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  19. Get More from Quicksilver with a New Interface « Unleash your inner geek on June 2nd, 2008 12:32 pm

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  20. Dennis on June 2nd, 2008 2:59 pm

    @Daniel – If you’re looking for pizzaz and glitz, Quicksilver certainly has LaunchBar beat. It’s a lot flashier. And I can respect that choice – a fancy UI is certainly fun to play with, at least for a little while.

    OTOH, LaunchBar’s interface is a lot simpler, unobtrusive, and cleaner, at least in my opinion. It tries to do less than Quicksilver’s UI, so I think it can maintain a more low key approach.

    I’ve tried a bunch of Quicksilver’s interfaces, and, frankly, I couldn’t find one I really liked. All the simple, unobtrusive ones seem to have some rough edges or are a bit buggy. Quicksilver, as a whole, seems to use more non-standard UI controls too.

    Your comment about Redmond made me laugh because I see it completely opposite: Quicksilver being like the glitzy star with fancy visual effects (like Vista), and LaunchBar being more like the quiet, understated simplicity of OS X.

  21. jolleyjoe on June 2nd, 2008 6:47 pm

    I agree with Austen.

    Launchbar is simple and stable. While Quicksilver has more features and less stable (although, there is someone polishing it up, and the current release from that guy is much improved in terms of stability compared from the version on the blacktree site).

    I tried Launchbar for a second but I couldn’t figure out how to move an item from one location to another :P .

    As well — in quicksilver, I use the triggers quite often (ie: assigning a keyboard shortcut for whatever can be executed by Quicksilver). I couldn’t find this in Launchbar. I’m sure there’s an application out there that does that, but if I’m running an applauncher anyways, why run another app.

    My 2 cents.

  22. angelique on June 3rd, 2008 11:33 am

    I am not a QS power user just yet, but I hope someday to be as I find it the most useful program on my mac.

    I have not had any stability problems, has crashed once or twice but way less than Firefox and I have tons of plugins installed.

    Never used LaunchBar, but why pay for something when the free QS is so great?

    My recent favorite features in QS:

    - Screen Capture: I can capture a region, rename the file and open it to copy all from QS. Brilliant!
    - Address Book: My company’s phone list is in Excel. Brought the csv into Address Book, and now all my contacts are accessible in QS without opening a thing. Super Brilliant! I have impressed many a folks by finding a phone number in 2 seconds, QS launch, start typing last name…success.
    - Hotkeys: this is very helpful for switching between home and work network settings. Ctrl+Alt+H – I’m home. (If I could only get the Proxy settings to switch as well)
    - Del.icio.us: Again repeating what someone else said, but since I only use Del.icio.us for bookmarks, any launch program needs to accommodate me.
    - Dictionary/Thesaurus: Wow, never do I need to look up a word again. Type the word in QS and go.

    I’m trying to move more things over to the QS way, but even if it only handles the above things, it’s worth a ton.


  23. JLouis on June 10th, 2008 11:51 pm

    I agree personally with Dennis about LaunchBar. I find it easier and more elegant. Most plugins in QuickSilver I didn’t need. I went through online QS demos and hints about proxies etc to get to the bottom of it. I finally came back to LaunchBar which isn’t free, true, but does just what I need. It’s very much a matter of personal preference and depends on how you use your Mac, in the end.

  24. Mason Kramer on June 18th, 2008 12:26 pm

    Quicksilver is very unstable. I cannot get it stable. Among other problems, it quits out whenever I try to add a new trigger, and occasionally permanently messes up so I can never access the trigger pane again, requiring a reinstall. I really don’t think that this program should be linked to anymore in the blogosphere, as it is very buggy and unsupported, and that is not likely to change in the near future if you listen to the developer. That said, does anyone know what the least unstable build is? I am on version 3814 .(I can’t believe that the best software app in existence has been abandoned by its developer! I would be so proud if it were my invention.)

  25. Arthus Erea on June 18th, 2008 3:11 pm

    Mason, just because the program does not work for you doesn’t mean everyone should have to write it off and “never link to it in the blogosphere.” For some of us, it works quite admirably and we are more than happy to link to it. Your mileage may vary.

  26. Mike on July 10th, 2008 3:15 pm

    I too gave up on Quicksilver when I started using Launchbar. To me, Launchbar is much more intuitive and simple to use. I had some problems with stability while using Quicksilver.


  27. Sir Tuna on July 11th, 2008 1:06 pm

    Love love love QS. Simple at first, but so complex once you dig deeper. Ever since I started using it, it’s made my Mac an extension of my body.
    Seems that having tons of plugins enabled increases the chance of QS crashing, but I think everyone else here fails to notice that QS is still in beta – it’s still not finished. Also, it’s open-source, and free, something Launchbar just can’t match.

    It’s good to see that the dev has picked up the project once again. Beta 56 is pretty sweet with the new Quick Look support.

  28. Brad Blackman on May 28th, 2009 9:32 am

    I want to download this HUD interface, but it looks like Julius’ site is down. Does anybody know anything about that, or when it’ll be up again soon? How about a mirror?

  29. Chris Guerra on January 5th, 2010 11:52 pm
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